"Baby Girl," he answered, the mere sound of her voice stirred a peace within him that he sorely needed at that point.
"Hi Baby. You okay?" she asked concerned laced with emotion. It had been weeks since he had come to New York to make sure she was okay after the shooting, and words could not eloquently describe how grateful she was that he had come. She didn't realize just how much she needed him, till he was standing before her. Morgan got to see her life in New York and though he missed her like crazy, he had never seen her more relaxed and happy, and that was enough for him.
"I'm torn between wanting to know once and for all, but at the same time a part of me feels that if I don't know for sure, there's a chance that someday she'll turn up you know?" he confessed lowering his head to his knees as he sat on the chair in the empty office. Reid and Rossi had vacated the room discreetly upon deducing that Penelope was on the other line.
"I know sweetheart, I wish there was something I could say that could make it better. Maybe this is the closure your Aunt needs baby. It's been years of not knowing and you could all use the peace of knowing once and for all."
"But this way P?"
"Honey, would any way be comforting?" she asked gently.
"No it wouldn't be. Thanks for calling P. It's so good to hear your voice. You have no idea how much it comforts me just hearing it."
"Oh sweetheart, I have an idea." She replied knowingly.
"And you never have to thank me for that. It's what friends are for. So if you need to just debrief, or just hear my voice, you call me okay."
"I will P."
"I promise Baby Girl."
"So what's a girl got to do to get some lovin' around here?" Derek's head snapped up at the sound of her voice, and there she stood with a smile on her face by the doorway of the office. He had just hung up from talking to her.
"I just wanted to make sure that you hold your end of the bargain." Derek was on his feet within moment engulfing her in a bone-crushing embrace.
"You didn't think I'd let you go through this with me on the other side of the country did you?" she murmured into his chest.
"I wasn't quite sure I could get through this, and having you here, I think I may just get a chance."
"Don't under estimate yourself my love, you would have. It's just who you are."
"But having you here sure helps."
"I'm glad. Come on the guys are gathered in the conference room. We're going to run through with what with got over lunch." She said taking his hand. Derek pulled her into another quick hug before allowing her to lead him to the conference room.
"GARCIE" Emily squealed happily upon seeing her friend. Derek watched as the girls rushed over to throw their arms around their muchly missed friend. The rest of the men held back for a bit allowing the girls to get their hugging out of the way before giving her their own hugs.
"It's good to see you Kitten." Rossi said affectionately.
"You too. I've missed you all very much." She replied with a smile.
They were able to at least enjoy an hour of sharing a meal together, and slipping into a temporary comfort zone of each other's presence. Individually they could see how her presence had not only calmed Derek, but them too. Reminding them that she was like homing beacon that kept them afloat for so many years, and despite the fact that she was no longer a part of the BAU she still had the ability to ground them, and bring a sense of peace to them. When Hotch hesitated after Penelope offered her services, Penelope threw him a look that had him holding his hands up in defeat knowing that there was no point in arguing.
"It's great to have you here Garcie. I know we only saw each other a couple of weeks ago, but it's so nice having you with us, especially during cases like these."
"It's nice to be back. I do miss you guys."
"Enough to come back?" Em teased knowing the answer to that question already.
"You're cute Prentiss."
Catching the unsub was somewhat bittersweet. Though he had implied that he had taken Derek's cousin recognizing that she held some importance to him, Derek picked up that he had not mentioned any other name except hers, confirming that whatever happened to his cousin, the unsub had no connection to.
As Penelope held his Aunt in her arms and she asked the question that plagued her, he found himself lying to her, giving her a closure she sorely needed. Penelope had held a hand out to him as he spoke, trying to transfer whatever strength she could knowing that it was killing him lying to someone he loved so much.
Penelope knew that Derek still had a mountain of paperwork to do, so she offered to take his Aunt home and stay there till he had finished. Before leaving she drew him into a tight embrace.
"You did the right thing." She murmured quietly in his ear, her voice thick with emotion. Derek just drew her closer and tighter to his chest.
"I love you P."
"I love you too Morgs. We'll see you soon."
His Aunt had met Penelope several times throughout the years, as whenever there was a family gathering, she would be there with him. Just as Mama Morgan loved Penelope, so did the rest of his family. His Aunt was no exception. She, along with everyone else had wondered when Derek was going to admit to himself just how much he loved the girl that had just flown across the country just to be there for him during a forseeable difficult time.
As Penelope got the tea ready for them Penelope could see that there was a peace within her that she had not had for many years. Derek had done the right thing. It was better than living with the uncertainty forever. A burden of uncertainty that Derek would carry alone for the rest of his life. One that the rest of their team could only try to help him carry.
Hotch had sent Derek to his Aunt's as soon as his report was done, assuring him that the rest of them would finish up the rest. He arrived to Penelope and his aunt cooking dinner for him and the rest of the team. Both in good spirits. The peace on his Aunt's face cancelled any guilt he felt by telling her a lie. Though he knew it would not be over till he knew once and for all what happened to his cousin, he would never stop looking. He knew none of them would.
"Hi Baby." He greeted hugging her.
"Hi. You okay?" she asked holding his cheek in her hand as she looked at him.
"Yeah, helps that you're here."
"Good I'm glad. Now pick up a knife and start chopping, we have an army to feed." She said giving his bottom a playful slap before jumping out of his embrace with a laugh.
"You're so going to get it P," he threatened with a glint in his eye. Penelope grinned as she stepped behind his Aunt for cover.
"No fair Baby Girl."
"Too bad. I'm going to quickly wash up upstairs while you take over."
"Sure P. No probs." Derek knew that she was giving them some time.
"That girl is a treasure." Aunt Yvonne said somewhat unnecessarily as she followed the gaze that never left Penelope's retreating figure. Snapping out of his trance he glanced back at his aunt,
"That she is." He agreed somewhat wistfully.
"Then Baby, you tell her how you feel."
"Does she? Does she truly know how you feel, and why you broke it off with that Tamara girl? Don't look at me like that. I know things."
"You and Mama need to stop gossiping."
"It's not gossip if it's factual, and baby the fact is you love that girl with all your heart. The moment you admit that to yourself, you can admit it to her, and life can be simple."
"It's never been simple."
"That's because you refuse to be honest with yourself. I love you, you know that. But you try so hard protecting your heart from hurt that you are denying yourself happiness that is right by your fingertips."
"No buts Baby, she flew all this way. Took time off from her job, for you. For me. Knowing what this could mean for us. You can't deny the love that's so evidently there. Best friend or not, that girl would cross the ocean by swimming it to get to you if she had to, and vice versa."
"I love her so much it scares me."
"I know Baby, she's just as frightened as you, but she's still here. What do you want? Can you honestly say that you'll be happy with this arrangement forever."
"I'm not happy with this arrangement now," he confessed,
"Then do something about it." Aunt Yvonne challenged. Before more could be said they heard the water in the bathroom stop running and ceased their conversation, switching to a different topic.